PENDLETON — Iron Horse Martial Arts, located at 739 E. Water St. in Pendleton, had a plentiful trip to Las Vegas for the 2021 AAU National Taekwondo Championships recently.
A 10-member team — led by sixth-degree blackbelt Master Myron Gerber — competed in Olympic sparring, breaking boards, poomsae and weapons. It brought home four first-place, eight second-place and six third-place awards from the event, which took place at MGM Grand from July 4-10.
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There were more than 3,000 athletes registered, the most ever for the AAU championships.
In addition to the many honors, Jack Wimmer qualified for the U.S. National Team trials at the 2021 AAU Jr. Olympic Games in Houston, Aug. 1-4.
In one of the tournament’s most emotional moments, Brock Lagoni competed in the special needs division and earned second place.
His growth in the sport is attributed to Master Gerber’s willingness and patience in his teachings along with Brock’s mother, Chala, and brother, Logan, who also compete, his father Jay and the entire team.
The Iron Horse Martial Arts team that competed throughout the season included: Wimmer, Quinn Sisson, Andrea Kopanski, Ryker Zilafro, Logan Lagoni, Chala Lagoni, Brock Lagoni, Quinton Cox, Houston Edwards, Jewel Edwards, Paxton Salazar, Xavier McNeil and Tommy Bodkin.
Earlier this year, Wimmer and Sisson traveled to Florida to an elite AAU taekwondo camp led by AAU national coach Juan Miguel Moreno with special attendance by Paige McPherson, who represented the USA taekwondo team in the recent Olympics in Tokyo.
During April and May the team earned numerous medals in AAU’s Indiana, Michigan and Ohio state championships.
Shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic for more than 15 months, Iron Horse Martial Arts group stayed in shape, preparing via Zoom in their living rooms, garages and other make-shift workout areas within homes until mandates lifted to be able to train at the dojang prior to the competition season.